All About My Mother

By Connie Passalacqua Hayman (Marlena De Lacroix)

My mother,  Jeanne Passalacqua, passed away last Thursday, April 23, in Bronxville, N.Y from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 88.

My mother had two great passions in life: entertainment and education.  She became totally devoted to movies during her Lower East Side Depression childhood.  During World War II, she worked as a secretary at Warner Brother’s

An indefatigable student of all things cinema, she had instant recall of every actor, writer and director credit of every movie ever made, long before there was an imdb.com.

Times Square office in New York.  Many stars visited the office, but she always told the story of the day the great English star Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver) came in.  My mother said that Garson was exquisite, the most beautiful woman she had ever seen, but always added,  ”I really never liked her as an actress.”

Later on my mother became a contributor to film magazines and many movie books, such as James Robert Parrish’s The Paramount Pretties and The MGM Stock Company, The Golden Years.  An indefatigable student of all things cinema, she became a self-taught foreign film expert and co-authored two books, Film Actors of Western Europe and Film Directors of Western Europe. All her life she had instant recall of every actor, writer and director credit of every movie ever made,  long before there was an imdb.com.

My mother, who was Jewish, married my father Cosmo, a transportation executive for the US Army, in 1949.   He came from a big Italian family. In those days, religious inter-marriage was considered scandalous.  In the 50s when wives were looked upon favorably by society only if they didn’t work, my always independent-minded mother raised me, her only child, and worked full-time as a librarian. She attended Baruch College for 25 years at night, finally earning her degree at age 50.

The last time she went out in public after she became ill with Alzheimer’s was to attend my New York University graduation ceremony at Radio City Music Hall three years ago. I  received my master’s degree in education at exactly the same age she had received her bachelor’s in business administration.

She was smart and tart and funny, and very, very observant of the world around her.  When she became ill, she was cared for by her devoted  husband of 59 years, my father. She lived in a nursing home for a year, and passed away only four days after the first anniversary of Dad’s death. 

They are survived by myself and my husband, Ed Hayman.  All that I am, I owe to my mother and father. 

Comments

  1. Linda says:

    So sorry for your loss. Sounds like she was quite an amazing woman and you have certainly followed in her footsteps. She must have been very proud of you.

  2. Dave Feldman says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Your Mom was a remarkable woman.

    My father is close to 90 and has dementia, and I hope, like you just did in this lovely obituary, that when his time comes, I can focus on his accomplishments and contributions to our family and blot out some of the shortcomings at the end of his life, when he lost some of his powers.

    Peace to you.

    Love,

    Dave

  3. esther says:

    This was a beautiful, loving tribute — you’ve done her proud. My condolences on your and Ed’s loss.

  4. Art says:

    My prayers are with you and your family Marlena.

  5. Leona says:

    My most heartfelt condolences.

  6. Chris says:

    My condolences to you during this time Marlena. It was nice to read a little about you mother today. Its lovely that we’re left with all the wonderful memories. Its what keeps us going in hard times.

  7. Cheryl says:

    I am very sorry for your loss. My mother died about a year ago from similar complications. I empathize with you tremendously and want to say what you’ve written is a beautiful tribute to your mother. My thoughts are with you.

  8. TJ says:

    I’m very sorry to hear of your loss. She sounds like a wonderful person.

  9. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Your descriptions of your mom (and dad) are really loving, vibrant pictures of people we wish we’d known.

    And as a foreign film buff, I’m sure your mom would have loved the title of this post. I think of that Almodovar movie often when I think of my own mother and miss her.

  10. Antoine Jefferson says:

    Reading the way you feel about your mother and what she gave to you and the world by living a full life, will remind me to love my mother and pay closer attention when listening as she tells me of the life she’s lived.

    Stay blessed.

  11. renee says:

    All that you are …
    You have taken a path to use word to bring joy and laughter and love, insight and openness to people you do not know, just because you can.
    You have given us a sense of family and a place to feel safe in a world were bonds are few, fast, and not lasting
    You make us smile
    You make an impression
    You’re unforgettable
    You’re love
    All that you are told me all that I needed to know about your mom and dad, if you had never said a word
    But all that you are … to not have written that tribute to your mother, and dad, would mean you were not who we know you are

    love, prayers, blessings as you find your way without her presence

  12. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with all of us.

  13. Raye says:

    With Deepest Sympathy, Connie. My prayers are with you and your family during your time of sorrow.

    Thank you so very much for sharing.

  14. Greg says:

    Dearest Connie/Marlena –

    I am so very, very sorry to hear of your loss — losing a parent is never easy & a painful cycle begins with Mother’s Day, birthdays, holidays & eventually the first anniversary of her passing. Right now I know it’s hard to believe that the pain & sadness with ease but it will eventually in time but it will never ever truly go away. Treasure your memories & know that you & your family are in the thoughts & prayers of so many whose lives you have touched.

  15. Jonathan Reiner says:

    Please accept my condolences, Connie. Love, JR

  16. BL says:

    My heart goes out to you and Ed. Sending positive thoughts and prayers your way. That was a beautiful, heartfelt tribute.

    Marlena says: As you know, I usually try to answer every letter. This is a hard time to write, so instead I want to send each and every one of you who wrote in a big, big hug. Thanks so much for your kindness, care, and generosity of heart!

  17. Marilyn Henry says:

    You have my deepest sympathy, Connie. Be thankful you had this very special lady so long and can keep her close with loving memories.

    I suspect your mother and I would have been very companionable. Like her, I was devoted to movies all my life (starting in the ’30s), knew them in and out and could identify the third henchman on the left of EG Robinson or the chorus girl next to Ginger, etc., but unlike your mom, I can no longer do it as well as I once did. Today’s movies just don’t thrill me much. We even have in common the work on Movie books. In all the years I’ve known you, I had no idea all this was in your background, though soaps aren’t that different from classic movies.

    I like that she worked as a librarian (my other passion: books) and that she kept at her education–she was indeed a wonderful, loving role model for a young woman such as yourself. Your pride in her achievements is clear and certainly justified. She sounds like a very delightful, interesting, and fun lady!

    Love, Marilyn

  18. Melanie says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your mother was an amazing woman. I’m sure she was as proud of you as you were of her. I know this is a difficult time, and my thoughts are with you. Take care.

  19. AZLiam says:

    I am very sorry for your great loss.

  20. John says:

    So sorry to hear this, Marlena. What a beautiful tribute. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  21. Dale says:

    Connie, I hope you know that you have love and support being sent to you from two friends in Canada. Unfortunately, you have been through this before, so you know that you have to take care of yourself. You are in my thoughts. Be well.

    Dale

  22. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    My condolences go out to you. Always sad when we loose a parent.. You wrote a wonderful tribute.

    Both my parents are gone now, although there was 7 years in between the two deaths. To loose both within a year is especially tough.

    Hang in there. You have my prayers.

  23. Mike Goldberg says:

    My deepest condolences Connie. And what a wonderful tribute to your Mother. I’m sending all of my good thoughts your way during this time

  24. Levi says:

    You were blessed to have such a wonderful mother who cared for you tremedously. She helped guide and shape you through your life’s journey.

    What you wrote showed what an open minded and compassionate woman she was.

    My deepest sympathies

  25. David says:

    Dearest Connie… my heart goes out to you and Ed. Please know that you both are in my thoughts and prayers. You have given your mother a beautiful and loving tribute. I am so pleased that she was able to attend your graduation ceremony. She must have been very proud of you. I treasure my mother and this makes me treasure her even more. I hope that in the days ahead you can take comfort that your mother is will always with you. God bless you both. David

  26. Viki says:

    What a beautiful and loving tribute. She sounds like she was a wonderful lady.

    Losing a mother is never easy. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. God bless.

  27. Giada says:

    My dear Connie, I am so very sorry for you. My condolences. I can feel your sadness through your lines. It must have been hard to end her life with such a disease, for her and for you all. It sounds like she was a smart, strong woman that must have been very proud of her daughter. A huge hug to you and your husband. If there’s something I can do to brighten your day and make you feel your pain a little less, just let me know.

  28. Greg says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Marlena. What a wonderful tribute to your Mother.

    I understand what you’re going through right now, as I lost my “Mother Dear” (she would always get a smile when I called her that) a couple years ago. I still think of her everyday and miss her terribly. Time will help with the pain, but the heart seems to never heal.

    All my love….

  29. Susan says:

    Connie, I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved mother.

    My mother (whose name was Connie!) died in July 2006 at 82 of complications of Alzheimer’s, so I know only too well what you and your family have gone through. This horrible disease is so cruel and takes away everything, bit by bit. I also lost my dear father five months ago, and feel like such an orphan now — a feeling I’m sure you’re struggling with now as well. It really doesn’t matter how old you are when your parents pass on — you feel as if your world has been turned upside down, never to be the same again because there are so many times when you just need Mommy and Daddy. I miss both of my wonderful parents *so* much and always will.

    Thanks for the beautiful tribute to your mother, as well as the lovely eulogy you wrote for your father when he died. From your descriptions, they must have both been amazing people, and we know they raised an amazing daughter. My heart goes out to you and your family during this sad time.

  30. Rebecca says:

    I’m so, so terribly sorry for your loss—-please accept my condolences. Your mother must have been an incredible, indomitable woman, and I’m sure she was very proud of you.

  31. Brandon says:

    All I can say is, you’re in my thoughts. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s anything I can do.

  32. Monica T. says:

    Marlena, I am so sorry to hear of your current sorrow over your Mom’s passing. This fall I will be without my Mom for five years and it can when I allow it to happen feel just like yesterday for me. I love the forever respect of which you speak of both of your parents, you truly are blessed to have had them as long as you did. Blessed Be and continue to be here now for us to enjoy you even more as a living tribute your parents.

    Marlena says: Again, thanks everyone for your kind words in a tough time. I’ve always said the best part of being Marlena is the wonderful friends I’ve made through writing this column. Here in our little quiet corner of the net are mature soap fans who really think and feel and who are very loving. I am so grateful.

  33. Vince says:

    Connie,

    I’m so sorry about your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Vince M.

  34. Cherry Ames says:

    Dear Marlena, I am so sorry for your loss but your written tribute honors your mother’s memory in a lovely and lasting way. You are her legacy as much as anything.

  35. Purple Haze says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. What a spirit she must have had to have rejected convention in the 40′s and married out of her religion. The length of your parents’ life together and devotion your father showed during her long, heartbreaking illness is a testament to your mother’s wisdom.

    Your gift as a writer has enabled your mother to come alive for all of us.

  36. Nicole says:

    I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. She sounded like a very intelligent, strong woman that you should be proud to have as a mother. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  37. Liz says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss, our mother’s are the most special people in our lives. That was a beautiful tribute. I lost my mother 18 years ago, and not a day goes by when I don’t think of her.

    Write about her often, published or not, it will help. Always keep her in your heart and don’t forget to let yourself hear her voice. It will continue to live inside of you and it will comfort you, just as it always has.

  38. LaShond says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, your mother sounded like an intelligent, independent woman. My thoughts and prayers are with you

  39. Carl says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I know that your mother was a very lucky woman to have such a caring and talented daughter.

  40. DS0816 says:

    Dear Connie,

    My sympathies to you over the loss of your mother.

    I lost mine 10 years ago.

  41. siport says:

    Marlena,

    You know that I feel your pain. It’s been almost a year since Mama died. I know that you did your best with her. Alzheimers is a horrible disease, and I hope you take this time to heal.

  42. PK ( Kel ) says:

    my deepest condolences and gratefulness that you even took the time to send YOURS to ME when my father got killed.. am thinking of you !!

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